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The Malaysian government is to decide whether genetically modified (GM) foods are acceptable under Islam, the Malaysian newspaper The Star reported this week.

The country's Islamic Affairs Department (known as Jakim) and National Fatwa Committee are set to consider whether Islam should endorse the production of GM foods.

The Star quotes Jakim director-general Datuk Mohd Shahir Abdullah as saying that genes taken from plants to create GM foods can be accepted under Islam. But further discussion is needed to decide whether the production of GM animals and the transfer of genes from animals to plants and vice-versa is also acceptable, he said.

To date, there is only one 'fatwa' — or religious decree — on GM food. This prohibits the consumption of any food or drink containing DNA from swine, animals which are not eaten by Muslims.

Source: © SciDev.Net 2002

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